Maureen Cleary commented about how easy it is to forget that tasks and relationships must be held in equal value for action to be sustainable. Maureen is right. This is one of the most common points of breakdown at work and at home and can threaten the viability of a Visionmaker's journey of meaning.
It is all too common for leaders to forget that action is a function of relationship.
When relationships are strong, and people understand what is required of them for success, tasks flow smoothly and efficiently. However, when relationships are undeveloped, confused, or strained, there are usually problems getting things done.
Conversely, when we over-focus on relationships and defer responsibility for tasks, momentum falters and productivity declines. This results in frustration and the loss of the fire of enterprise. Mature leadership requires prudent management of both tasks and relationships, recognizing when the conditions of the journey requires attention to one or the other.
In the beginning is everything, goes the old proverb, and it applies to tasks and relationships as well. Preparing for action is the best approach to ensuring relationships are strong enough to sustain the flow of tasks over time.
One common mistake that Visionmakers can make is taking a blind leap into action out of a misguided desire to accomplish something quickly. This seldom results in a positive outcome, especially if more than three people are involved in a project. Many of the conflict resolutions that I have been called into help sort out have resulted from such practices. People need to understand goals and objectives, roles and responsibilities, behavioral guidelines, decision-making protocols, and other such expectations so that they can conduct their work from a common base of assumptions ...prior to the commencement of activity.
Similarly, an environment of low-accountability and a too cozy atmosphere breeds complacency, lethargy and claustrophobia. Such an atmosphere will eventually result in conflict with those who have performance expectations of the team, or who may find themselves growing frustrated that so little is being accomplished in so much time.
The balance of task and relationship is the responsibility –and art-form–of every Visionmaker. It ensures the sustainability of the expedition from Possibility to Outcome.
In my next post, I will be exploring the difficult conditions that strong relationships help Visionmakers meet and overcome, conditions that threaten every journey of meaning. As always, your thoughts and experiences are welcome and make the extraordinary conversation about Visionmaking richer.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.